Steven B. Wilson
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
Sixteen year old Christian Eckes finished sixth in Sunday’s Herr’s Potato Chips 100 at Springfield’s historic dirt mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
As part of tradition the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards helped close out the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, IL. On the final day and under hot and humid conditions teams arrived early for what was a jammed packed Sunday schedule.
Unlike most race days, Springfield comes fast and furious with practice, qualifying and racing all within a four hour window. For Eckes, the fast moving schedule had no ill affect. With no prior dirt experience and only one hour of practice, Eckes turned in a solid effort during his maiden voyage.
Driving Venturini Motorsports’ prepared No.15 Illinois Truck and Equipment – TurnOne Toyota, Eckes qualified and started from the eighth position.
Taking the green flag Eckes hung with the lead pack and showed no signs of inexperience. In fact, Eckes who maintained his top-10 running position for most of the first half brought spectators to their feet as he moved his machine up through the field – passing hometown favorite AJ Fike in dramatic fashion for the lead just past the halfway point of the 100-mile race.
Eckes would lead the field around the 1-mile track for several circuits before sliding back to the third position. Riding inside the top-3 under caution Eckes would make an unscheduled pit stop late. The untimely stop pushed the teen back to the eighth position. Staying focused Eckes would pick off several spots during the final laps before finishing sixth at the checkered flag.
“Just an incredible experience out there today,” said Eckes. “We ended up running up front for some but a late race pit stop hurt our chances at a top-three finish. I still had a lot of fun and gained a ton of experience for next season. I can’t wait for another shot on the dirt.”
Eckes’ finish was his ninth consecutive top-10 finish of the season. He’ll rejoin the team for his final start of the season on September 9 for the running of the Eddie Gilstrap Motors Fall Classic 200 at Salem Speedway.
Follow Christian Eckes on social media by visiting @ChristianEckes on Twitter and Instagram, @ChristianEckesRacing on Facebook or visit his official website at www.ChristianEckesRacing.com.
Fans attending the Can-Am 500 on Sunday, Nov. 12 at Phoenix Raceway will be entertained with live music before the start of the race as multiplatinum rock band Sugar Ray will perform a pre-race concert in the DC Solar Power Pavilion at 10:30 a.m. (local).
Sugar Ray hit mainstream success when their breakthrough hit song “Fly” dominated the airwaves in the summer of 1997 and rose to No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks and Top 40 Mainstream charts. After their album “Floored” went double-platinum, Sugar Ray followed up with “14:59” that reached triple-platinum status with hit singles “Every Morning,” “Someday” and “Falls Apart.”
Hailing from Orange County, Calif., the group includes vocalist Mark McGrath, lead guitarist Rodney Sheppard, bassist Kristian Attard and drummer Dean Butterworth. The band, who has appeared numerous times on the Tonight Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, Carson Daly and The Today’s Show’s Summer Concert Series, has sold over eight million records worldwide.
The concert, which resulted from a partnership between Phoenix Raceway and Niner Sports & Entertainment, is just one part of race day excitement that is free to all fans with a grandstand ticket for the Can-Am 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. The Can-Am 500 is the semifinal race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. After the race, the field of championship contenders will be trimmed from eight hopefuls to the final four drivers that will race for the championship the next week.
Tickets to all events throughout the Can-Am 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Phoenix Raceway are available online at PhoenixRaceway.com, by phone at 1-866-408-RACE (7223) or in person at the Phoenix Raceway ticket office.
First Data Set to Partner with Chip Ganassi Racing and Driver Kyle Larson at Talladega and Martinsville21 Aug 2017
Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today that First Data (NYSE: FDC), a global leader in commerce-enabling technology, will partner with Kyle Larson and the No. 42 Chevrolet SS team for two upcoming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) races at Talladega Superspeedway and Martinsville Speedway.
This expands on a relationship that began last season when First Data joined Jamie McMurray and the No. 1 Chevrolet SS as a partner for the Fall Martinsville race. Additionally, First Data returns this year on McMurray’s car at Martinsville as an associate sponsor. First Data also recently announced a three-year agreement with Martinsville to be the entitlement sponsor for the track’s fall MENCS race, starting with the First Data 500 on October 29.
Sheldon Creed’s experience racing on dirt paid off Sunday in the Herr’s Potato Chips 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The 19-year-old earned a fourth-place finish in his debut with Mason Mitchell Motorsports (MMM) piloting the No. 78 United Rentals Chevrolet.
Creed restarted in the second position on the afternoon’s final restart. Unfortunately, the outside line was not the line to be in and Creed fell back to seventh. The young driver raced like a veteran the last 15 laps turning laps quicker than the leader and working his way back inside the top-five to a fourth-place finish.
“We had a great racecar all day long, “Creed stated after the 100-lap event. “Unfortunately, we got stuck on the outside line for a majority of the restarts and if you couldn’t get to the bottom right away you lost spots. We needed the race to go green. We had way too many cautions that never allowed for a lot of green flag racing. I can’t wait to be back with these MMM guys at DuQuoin. They worked hard all day and made great adjustments to our car. We will have a great shot to win at DuQuoin”
Creed started the 100-lap event from the fourth position. When the green flag waved, Creed made a three-wide move to pass two cars in the first corner. Creed took the third position right before the first caution of the event waved at lap three.
When the race resumed Creed quickly moved into the runner-up position passing eventual winner Grant Enfinger at lap eight.
The first half of the 100-lap event was marred by the yellow flag as it waved four times. Creed made his first and only pit-stop before halfway taking four General Tires and a minor chassis adjustment. The No. 78 team had a great stop as Creed came off pit-road second but six drivers stayed out under the yellow flag. It only took Creed one lap has he passed four cars to move back into the top-five in the fourth position. The California native raced as high as second and proved to be a contender for the win.
On the days, final restart with 18 laps to go. Creed restarted from the second position but was stuck on the outside losing valuable track position and sliding back to seventh. He spent the next 15 laps driving his way back to the front of the field and working his way back inside the top-five earning a fourth-place finish as the checkered flag waved.
The dust has now settled on the 2017 racing season at Bowman Gray Stadium – and just as expected, the final night had enough fireworks to get the fans on their feet.
In the Brad’s Golf Cars Modified Series, Tim Brown of Tobaccoville qualified on the pole for Saturday’s Carolina Farm Credit 150. Brandon Ward of Winston-Salem started on the outside front-row but was unable to steal the lead away on the initial start.
Ward tried again during the first double-file restart, but he was caught on the outside row while James Civali of Davidson moved up to second. Civali began immediately applying the pressure to Tim Brown. On lap 27, Civali gave a strong shot to the bumper of Brown, sending him sliding to the outside row and falling back in position. Civali took over the lead.
However, Civali quickly began receiving the same pressure from Brandon Ward. A string of cautions gave Ward four chances to take to the outside and challenge for the lead. On the fourth attempt, Ward battled with Civali side-by-side for a full lap until eventually clearning Civali and stealing away the lead.
Ward then had to defend the top spot from Tim Brown, Bobby Measmer of Concord, James Civali, and Jonathan Brown of Winston-Salem. Through it all, Ward held strong and went on to win. The last time Ward had entered Winner’s Circle was last year’s season-ending Carolina Farm Credit 150.
“I hate it took us all year to win one again. We’ve had good race cars,” said Ward. “A couple mechanical issues put us behind, but these guys have worked super hard to get caught back up. Tonight’s the best car we’ve had.”
While the battle for the checkered was raging on, Burt Myers of Walnut Cove was making his way through the field on a mission for his eighth Modified championship. Myers moved up to third early in the race but was involved in a wreck that dropped him back. Despite the incident, Myers fought forward to finish fourth – more than enough to clear the rest of the field in the points standings.
“I used to sit right there in the stands - and to think about winning eight championships is just unbelievable,” said Myers. “You start out the season, you try to win as many races as you can. You try to do the best you can, be as consistent as you can. And we were just right there. God’s blessed me so much – me and my family.”
In the Texas Steak & Tap House Sportsman Series, John Holleman of Winston-Salem led the first few laps of Saturday’s 40-lapper. He seemed to be on the way to taking his ninth win – and potentially even the Sportsman title.
But Dylan Ward of Winston-Salem bumped him out of the lead. A few laps later, Zack Clifton of Walkertown banged fenders with Holleman – sending his car spinning along with his championship hopes.
Dylan Ward went on to take the checkered. Finishing a smooth second place was Derek Stoltz of Walkertown, who claimed the Sportsman championship.
The points battle in the Q104.1 New Country Street Stock Series was as tight as they come entering Saturday’s race. Jacob Creed of Dobson was tied for the lead with Jeremy Warren of Winston-Salem. Brian Wall of Winston-Salem was just eight points behind.
With hard racing and wrecks left and right, Warren and Wall were taken out of the race early. Their ailing cars weren’t enough to make it back to the front – but Jacob Creed was able to avoid any incident, finishing second and winning his first Street Stock Championship.
In the Law Offices of John Barrow Stadium Stock Series, Chase Hunt of Lexington was one lap away from winning the championship when disaster struck and Hunt began slowing due to a flat tire. He tried to continue the race, needing to preserve his position in order to win the title.
But on the white flag lap, Hunt fell back several positions. Wesley Thompson of Advance went on to win, boosting him past Hunt and A.J. Sanders of Mocksville in the points rankings and giving him the Stadium Stock title for 2017.
BGS Racing PR
Riki Rachtman, the longtime host of MTV’s hit show Headbangers Ball and current host of the Racing Rocks! Radio Show, will serve as an honorary emcee for Darlington Raceway’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 weekend on Sept. 1-3.
In his role, Rachtman will emcee various events during the Labor Day throwback weekend, including in the fan hospitality and display areas and pre-race ceremonies. He will also introduce Poison frontman Bret Michaels, who will be performing the Bojangles’ Southern 500 pre-race concert.
“I’ve always thought that Darlington Raceway is the coolest race track. I came here as a fan in 1994 and have been here several times since then. It is an iconic place,” Rachtman said. “Darlington is special and to help with their throwback celebration is definitely something I’m looking forward to.”
“If you were ever a fan of hard rock music in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Riki Rachtman and Headbangers Ball was a staple for fans of that genre of music,” track President Kerry Tharp said. “With Riki joining the likes of Bret Michaels, rock n’ roll music fans will be excited for our Bojangles’ Southern 500 race weekend.”
Rachtman got his first break with Headbangers Ball in 1989 when he began hosting the program as a guest host for the popular TV show, which featured music videos of some of the country’s most popular rock n’ roll and heavy metal acts. He would later go on to be the main host of the show from 1990-1995. But it all started in 1989. Previously, he emerged on the music scene in the late 1980’s when he opened the legendary rock n’ roll venue, The Cathouse, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in Los Angeles, Calif. in 2016.
“That was a memorable time for me and the hard rock/heavy metal music industry,” Rachtman said. “Headbangers Ball was a staple for millions of rock fans across the country.”
Racing Rocks! is a two-hour weekly music-intensive program that provides rock fans coast-to-coast with news, exclusive insights, interviews and dedicated coverage from the world of NASCAR, primarily the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The program debuted in 2003 and is syndicated throughout the United States. He was also a contributor on the SPEED Channel.
Rachtman visited Darlington Raceway today, Aug. 20, on his final stop of a 48-state solo charity motorcycle ride, notably called ‘Riki’s Ride.’ South Carolina was the final state on his journey, which took two months, over 13,000 miles and raised over $16,000 for cystic fibrosis.
“It made so much sense to end my epic ride at such an epic track,” Rachtman said. “Riki’s Ride raised thousands of dollars for a great cause. I’m looking forward to heading home to North Carolina today and being back here for the Sept. 1-3 Bojangles’ Southern 500 race weekend very soon.”
Darlington Raceway’s award-winning throwback campaign is now The Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR featuring the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500® on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. The NASCAR XFINITY Series Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 will race on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. Tickets are on sale now by calling 866-459-7223 or visiting DarlingtonRaceway.com. Children 12 and under can get in free to Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race.
You can keep up with all of the latest news from Darlington Raceway at DarlingtonRaceway.com, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DarlingtonRaceway and on Twitter at Twitter.com/TooToughToTame. Fans are encouraged to post their Bojangles’ Southern 500 stories and memories using #TraditionContinues, #BojanglesSo500 and #SportClips200.
Darlington Raceway PR
Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay was re-evaluated by INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Geoffrey Billows this morning after sustaining injuries to his left knee and hip Saturday following a crash in ABC Supply 500 qualifying. Hunter-Reay has been cleared to drive.